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Calls in Lockport for new body cameras

I-Team has filed at least five open records requests regarding body cam information
Calls in Lockport for new body cameras
Posted at 11:20 AM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 18:16:47-04

LOCKPORT, NY (WKBW) — There are calls in Lockport for new body cameras. Interim Lockport Police Chief Steven Priesch wants the city to buy new body cameras for all officers.

Chief Priesch tells 7 Eyewitness news the cameras and system would cost $160,000. They would start recording automatically, and be held in place by a magnet.

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Interim Lockport Police Chief Steven Priesch tells 7 Eyewitness News he wants to buy better body cameras and improve the policy in response to the community.

Priesch demonstrated the current and proposed new body cams Wednesday afternoon. He explained the current device his officers are using clips on an dis "adequate" for regular traffic stops, but noted it can easily fall off.

"But if you start running or in a physical confrontation, it easily becomes un-clipped," Priesch explained.

The police chief says he has also drafted a proposed new policy that could call for a "mandatory wear policy".

This follows the in-custody death of 39-year-old Troy Hodge, after a struggle with officers in June. The 7 Eyewitness News I-Team has learned body camera video of that struggle exists, but it's fragmented, because the chief says officers are not currently required to have them on at all times. Under current policy, they're only required to use the cameras at traffic stops and at the officer's discretion.

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Lockport Police Department.

The I-Team has filed at least five open records requests with Lockport Police for body camera policies and other items despite telling us they would work to send us those policies, we have not received one document.

Chief Priesch says he is not allow to discuss the case as the State Attorney General's office continues it's investigation. Priesch says he wants to buy better body cameras and improve the policy in response to the community who spoke out a few weeks ago after the death of Hodge.

"I believe that video will only vindicate a good officer -- will only vindicate a good officer, am I proponent of it? I am?", Priesch declared.
"There's no alternative motive or anything like that – as a department head – i need to anticipate and look forward and to not to be reactive – be more pro active."

7 Eyewitness News has reached out to Mayor Michele Roman and we are waiting for a response.

Lockport City Council member Richard Abbott tells 7 Eyewitness News they’ve received no formal presentation to the city council. He says commenting on it at this point would be putting the "cart before the horse". He also noted he's not sure how the cost of the body cams would be covered and that it might have to consider it under capital spending.

The proposal was presented to the Police Board of Commissioners.